RE Small terrarium

From: Jack Elder (
Date: Thu Jun 10 1999 - 04:06:15 PDT

Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 12:06:15 +0100
From: "Jack Elder" <>
Message-Id: <aabcdefg2087$foo@default>
Subject: RE Small terrarium

> Hi, I am going to be putting together a carniverous plant terrarium in the
> near future, complete with fountain fed with distilled water.. It will
> also have both a flourescent and grobulb shining into it..I have a couple
> questions to ask though:
> 1. What carniverous plants would be good for around the fountain and
> perhaps in the fountain bowl <aquatics>.. the bowl will be small,
> so they'd
> have to stay small.. I also am partial to pings.. would they work
> in there?
> 2. What soil should I use? Should I place a layer of rock at the
> bottom to
> help with drainage and a peat/sand/perlite mix on top of that?
> Thanks for all your help :)
> Susan

Well, I've seen at least one CP book (Paul Temple's 'Carnivorous Plants',
the Wisley handbook) which recommends pings as pond marginals (specifically
P. vulgaris, I believe, though P. grandiflora may also work). If you've got
a small, water-soaked gravel area at the side of the water, possibly a few
pings might work here?

As to aquatics: avoid U. gibba if you want things to stay small (the utric
equivalent of D. capensis - it grows so fast/large it's a noxious weed in
some countries). I'm not too up on good small utrics, but most terrestrial
utrics should do fine near the fountain. Admittedly, if they like the
conditions, most terrestrial utrics would take over, but never mind. If
repeatedly uprooting huge masses of colonising utricularia isn't your idea
of fun, you might want to try growing the utrics in a pot - although they're
still likely to make a break for freedom.

Other good terrarium plants: I've seen Cephalotus and numerous Drosera
grown in terraria similar to the set-up you decribe. For Drosera, sticking
with the less prolific temperate species is probably a good idea. Since
your fountain should (presumably) be keeping a reasonable degree of air
circulation going, you shouldn't have to worry about fungus too much.
Basically, you should be able to go with any temperate species, although two
things you may wish to consider are:
        -Growth speed - do you want to grow plants which will take over quickly and
necessitate regular removals? Or do you want plants which may take a while
to establish themselves?
        -Dormancy - are you planning on providing a dormancy period for the
terrarium during the winter? If not, some temperate species (VFTs, sarras,
etc) should be avoided.

As to soil: for this kind of terrarium, I'd say that a base of
gravel/expanded clay granules, with peat/sand/perlite on top (as you say),
with live spagnum as a top-dressing. About every other year you'll need to
harvest the live spagnum, but that shouldn't be too much of a hardship ;).
If you're worried about drainage, put a small length of plastic pipe
vertically in one corner when you're laying the soil. This will provide a
'well' to the tank's water table, and will allow you to siphon off any
excess water.

Best of luck with the terrarium, and be sure to let us know how it all turns


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